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Mangalore: Russell's Viper Litters '65' Young Ones - Creeps into Record Books

Gladson D'Almeida for Daijiworld Media Network
Pics - Arun Uppinangady

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Mangalore, Jun 7: Our hearts pound at the very sight of a venomous snake. The very picture of snake at times creates fear in us and if someone has an experience of snakebite, then he/she would never forget this horrid experience.  Though beautiful to behold and silent in nature, snakes do have the capacity to cause fear and anxiety.  Among all the venomous snakes, it is said that Russell's Viper are most dangerous in nature.

Russell's Viper is said to have been named after Dr Patrick Russell, author of 'An Account of Indian Serpents' and 'A Continuation of am Account of Indian Serpents'.  It has light brown body with three rows of dark brown or black splotches bordered with white or yellow extending its entire length.

It is found in Asia, throughout the Indian subcontinent, much of Southeast Asia, Southern China and Taiwan. This species is easily the most dangerous viper snake and a major cause of snakebite injury and mortality. This dangerous species is abundant over its entire range. It is responsible for more human fatalities than any other venomous snake. It is irritable. When threatened, it coils tightly, hisses, and strikes with such speed that its victim has little chance of escaping. Its hemotoxic venom is a powerful coagulant, damaging tissue and blood cells.

Though its average length is about 120, it grows to a maximum length of 166 cm.

Russell's Vipers are not restricted to any particular habitat, but does tend to avoid dense forests. Mostly found in open, grassy or bushy areas.  At the same time some are also found in second-growth forests (scrub jungles), on forested plantations and farmland. They are most common in plains, coastal lowlands and hills of suitable habitat.

A Russell's Viper which was being taken care at Reptile Conservation Centre run by Sheshavana Charitable Trust at Puttur has given birth to 65 young ones recently.  This in itself is a record since the reported maximum is 65 in a single litter. The same Russell's viper had littered 63 young ones in the same centre.

Speaking to media later on herpetologist and the managing trustee of the centre Ravindranath Aithal said that the young ones were left in Bisale reserved forest area since it is a safe place for the reptiles.

Earlier ten eggs of Cobra which were found during excavation works at Dharmasthala were hatched under the vigilant eyes of Dr Aithal.  An artificial hatching mechanism devised by Aithal was used in the process which turned out to be successful.  All the eggs were kept in a earthen pot for about 13 days under low temperature.

A small quantity of mud was put in the pot while the eggs were covered with hay. A small whole was plugged to the pot for proper ventilation. It paid off as 10 young ones came out from the egg on the 13th day.

Dr Ravindranath is on a silent mission of creating awareness on conservation of snakes for the last 25 years through his snake sanctuary.  He says that today several species of snakes are on the verge of extinction and they need to be preserved for the good of all. 

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